What’s worse than ballistic missiles? Cruise missiles that can slip under the radar…
North Korea recently test-fired a new long-range cruise missile and that’s never a good sign for the rest of the world. The new system is capable of launching nuclear strikes against not only South Korea but also Japan, according to an initial report from Time Magazine.
These cruise missiles are not launched as high as ballistic missiles and can easily avoid being detected by nearby nations until its too late for a response attack. On Saturday and Sunday, the new missiles flew in “pattern-8 flight orbits” for more than two hours, covering about 930 miles or 1500 km over land and sea before hitting their target, according to North Korea’s Central News Agency. This means that the missiles can now hit targets all the way in Japan with its new range and has been dubbed a “strategic weapon of great significance.”
These cruise missiles could further complicate the tense relations between USA and Asia. As mentioned earlier, ballistic missiles can cover a wider range than cruise missiles but they also fly in a highly arched trajectory, without using any power for descent and are easier to spot and counterattack before they can strike their targets. Meanwhile, cruise missiles are powered throughout their flight and are easily maneuverable while staying close to the surface so they can be hard to detect before reaching their desired target which makes them a potential threat. “Cruise missiles offer significant advantages in terms of surprise, penetration of defenses and accuracy,” commented Jeffrey Lewis, director of East Asia nonproliferation program at Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
This could also affect relations between USA and China, if North Korea decides to side with the latter and use the threat of a cruise missile attack on Japan and handicapping one of the strongest American strongholds in Asia. But it’s still not clear how the situation will unfold in the upcoming months but it’ll surely be a tense few months for USA altogether.